Brunswick bowls for Web services

Brunswick Corp., Vernon Hills, Ill., is probably best known as a maker of bowling and billiards equipment, but according to JT Smith, the firm's director of technology, Brunswick also develops open-source Web services integration products.

Smith, who works for WDI, the software development division of Brunswick New Technologies, was a leader in the creation of the company's XML-standards-based Business Integration Engine (BIE).

BIE can be configured in as little as 30 minutes to translate data for business transactions such as purchase orders from a variety of sources into XML, Smith said. BIE can be up and running in as little as a day, he added.

Now available for free download from, BIE was developed after Brunswick's IT professionals were unable to find an off-the-shelf solution for linking the company's many vendors and distributors, Smith explained. The manufacturer of sports, recreation and exercise equipment needed to gather data from its supply and distribution channels to make business decisions about how much product was needed, he noted.

''The goal was to integrate all of our dealers, suppliers and distributors so that we can get our information in more of a real-time fashion,'' recalled Smith. ''We looked at a number of products that were out on the market that claimed to do what we needed, but they just didn't stand up to the test. Either they were extraordinarily expensive -- to pay for it for all of our dealers and distributors and suppliers would have been just outrageous -- or they weren't flexible enough to meet our needs.''

The development effort began two years ago with code written in Java and with XML as the data standard. At first, JMS was going to be used for messaging, Smith said. But the development team moved to SOAP as BIE evolved into a Web services system.

''JMS isn't as flexible as Web services,'' he said. ''It's also not quite as fast as Web services with SOAP. We still use JMS in our product, but the core interface is through Web services, exposed through SOAP 1.1 and WSDL.''

BIE is platform-independent and requires only Java 1.4, Smith said. But to accommodate small businesses, such as a marine supply store with two employees and computer resources limited to a PC and a dial-up modem, Smith's team created SBIE, Small Business Integration Engine. It requires only Java 1.3 and can run on a Windows 95 PC with a phone modem connection to the Internet, he said.

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About the Author

Rich Seeley is Web Editor for Campus Technology.